Summary. At monthly intervals during the year blood samples were collected every 20 min for 12 h from 4 entire and 2 prepubertally castrated adult fallow deer bucks. In the entire bucks there were seasonal changes in mean concentrations and pulse frequencies of plasma LH. Mean concentrations in late summer and autumn were 3–6 times higher than during other seasons. LH pulse frequency was low (0–1 pulses/12 h) during most of the year and increased only during the 2-month period (January and February) that marked the transition from the non-breeding season to the autumn rut. During this period there was a close temporal relationship between pulses of LH and testosterone. However, during the rutting period (March and April) episodic secretion of testosterone, manifest as surges in plasma concentrations of 4–6 h duration, was not associated with any detectable pulses in LH although mean plasma concentrations of LH remained elevated. During the rut, the surges of plasma testosterone occurred at similar times of the day. Plasma profiles in May indicated very low concentrations of LH and testosterone secretion in the immediate post-rut period. Castrated bucks exhibited highly seasonal patterns of LH secretion, with mean plasma LH concentrations and LH pulse frequency being lowest in November (early summer) and highest in February and March (late summer–early autumn). Mean concentrations and pulse frequency of LH in castrated bucks were higher than for entire bucks at all times of the year.
Keywords: fallow deer; reproduction; pituitary; testis; LH; testosterone